Read the previous post here – Part 5 – or go back to the beginning of this travel dairy by – clicking here.

We had no idea if we would get going the next day. Much confusion. The Wateralmanak said the bridges closed on Sundays after mid August. Today is 18th August. The harbour master in Meppel said they were open. Since the bridge operators start work at 9.00, we made sure we were ready. And bang on time – the first lock changed lights. A bunch of us raced to untie and get through the lock. Some didn’t make it. That particular lock keeper said all locks and bridges were open all day – except lunch time – of course. We were thrilled. ETA for Groningen was around lunch time.

But that was not to be. Just outside Groningen we came across – Van Ketwich Verschuur Brug Nr 202 M – and they had opened three times a day on Sundays. Boats could pass in one direction only. Since we were stuck outside, we moored up, had a very early lunch and did a spot of reading.

When we first arrived in The Netherlands, we would ask to speak English. In southern Holland they understood our English better than our Afrikaans. But as we headed further north, we found we could speak Afrikaans and most people knew what we saying. Perhaps the Dutch settlers in South Africa came from Drenthe? Or maybe we adapted to speaking a Dutch style Afrikaans?

A nice high bridge – see numbers for clearance level

When we first started looking at boats, we had a much smaller boat in mind. We hired different boats in different countries over the years. This helped shape our idea of what was important to us. There were lots of boats we liked, but they were missing this or didn’t have that. The boat agents would show us bigger boats, but they were outside the budget. Eventually we realised that our needs required a bigger boat. My husband had to save for another year.

There are still things that would have been nice to have, such as – a washing machine, two bathrooms for when we have visitors or a

Rotating railway bridge # 506K just outside Meppel

proper oven . . . . To fit all that, a boat size goes up astronomically – as does the price. And the places you can travel or fit into, decrease. Truth is, at 4.7 m air draft, 1.1 m draft, 12.6 m length and 3.6 m wide, we are at the very limit of a medium sized boat. The real question is how much space do YOU need? How much is wasted? And this is where boat design comes in. The design must provide maximum space to move and storage.

Our boat is a Dutch Steel motor cruiser. A van Der Valk. A Gys Van Der Valk boat to be exact. There a two brothers pushing out Van

Quayside in Meppel

Der Valk motor cruisers.You really need to look at styles of boats and hone in on the designs that appeal to you. Then look for the newest one, in the best condition, at the best price.

The rest of our Sunday was slow going. We managed to travel a measly 13 kilometres and our motoring time was 2 hours 45 minutes. All this from 9.00 to 16.00. Not great. We learnt that Sundays on the waterways are slow going. Most of our time was spent waiting for bridges, locks and lock-keepers who managed multiple points alone. These poor guys cycle from one bridge to the next doing a good few in a row. Then start all over again.

Lucky for us we encountered yet another hands-on harbour master at Goningen Oosterhaven. He

Meppel town square

caught our attention chop chop and directed us straight into a berth. We tied up and went on a mini walk-about before it got too dark. After our long day we decided to get brave and have a Belgian beer. My husband had a Westmalle dubbel and I had a . . Delirium Tremens. How could I NOT have one? Then we headed back to inclusive, 10 amp shore power = piping hot shower and kettle boiled water in 10 mins.

Read Part 7 – by clicking here.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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